Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Last Orphans (The Last Orphans #1) by N. W. Harris


This review was written by: B
Received: Copy from the Author
Publication Date of Book: October 2014
Pages: 274 (paperback edition)
Stars 5/5

It invaded his mind, drowning his thoughts, and leaving only dejected questions that no one could answer. What was he supposed to do now? Why did he have to still be alive when everyone he loved was being taken from him?
       -The Last Orphans

Shane's grandmother was his rock and solid ground.  Even when things got rough between Shane and his father, he always had his grandmother to turn to, but when she passed away, it shook his world to its very core.  How would he ever smile again knowing that she was no longer of this world, waiting for him when he opened her front door?  The day of her funeral was solemn and heavy with sorrow, but it was only the beginning of what would turn into an even worse nightmare.

After he has yet another fight with his father on their way home from the gathering, Shane is forced to leave the car and walk the back country roads by himself.  He decides to go to his grandmother's home, both a comforting and familiar place for him to calm down and think at.  Along the long journey to get there, though, Shane notices the nearby animals and insects acting with what could only be described as strange behavior.  Their abnormal conduct almost makes them seem a bit upset and even aggressive, almost as if they are ready to attack people.  Luckily, his aunt finds him on the road, and they begin to drive to the grandmother's house together.

Then the worst possible thing happens . . . every insect and animal goes berserk.  They go from human to human, assailing them viciously until their victims are dead.  Calling 911 doesn't work, no one will answer.  The fire and police departments won't pick up, either.  The sky's a sickly color, a storm's brewing, and people are being murdered left and right by nature itself.  Shane desperately tries to make it to the hospital when his aunt is swarmed by flying, stinging insects, but it's not looking too good.  Shane know it's too late.  Suddenly, two girls come running up to him from their home.  The beautiful girl Kelly, whom Shane goes to school with, and her little sister Natalie are in hysterics.  Their parents were just killed right in front of them.  Shane realizes that he needs to help them and tells them that he'll take them to town.

Seeing a light on at the school, they head there in hopes of finding adults who survived the slaughter.  When they arrive, the three find a multitude of children huddled in fear.  Their parents are gone forever, and they have nowhere and no one to turn to.  Soon, they inexplicably designate Shane as their leader, against his will.  He has no idea how they decided on him, and he definitely has no idea on how to take care of a hoard of children his age and younger.  How can he protect them?  He has no idea how he got put in this position, but his noble heart will not let these innocent people down.  Along with his friends, it is up to Shane to lead, protect, and defend those that were spared death, but this will not be easy.  The overbearing weight of loss is heavily pulling on his shoulders.  He lost all of those he cared about, but he has Kelly to get him through, his secret crush.  He has to look forward and be strong when no one else can do it.

Why did nature go crazy?  What made the world go mad?  Will Shane survive this whole ordeal while keeping his head on straight?  Are there any adults left?  What does it take for a hero to arise in a dark and hopeless place?  How can one find the will to live if there is nothing worth living for?  Read The Last Orphans if you dare to go on a wild, dangerous, and hopeful journey to find safety in a chaotic existence in order to survive!

My thoughts on the book:
The Last Orphans was an intense read filled with intrigue, mystery, death, loss, hope, and survival.  As I was reading it, I realized that this novel was persistent with a very prevalent thought of not existing for one's self but existing, instead, for others.  I believe this theme to be terribly thought-provoking.  Shane was a wonderful demonstration of what it means to be truly human even though being human means being flawed.  Shane was real.  He felt loss just like every one else.  He battled between choosing what was right and wrong.  He made huge decisions based on what was necessary.  And most importantly, he was able to demonstrate the best of humanity.  When it came down to it, he put his misery aside, hid his despair, and tried to pose a brave face so that he could be the strength for those who had already lost it.  He never asked to be the leader of almost one hundred individuals, but no way was he going to let everybody down because being human means to fight and care for each other.  He was a truly admirable character and probably one of my favorites out of many books that I have read these past few years.  When it comes down to it, Shane was a refreshing face in YA literature.

I can easily say that N. W. Harris has a specific talent when it comes to writing.  No matter how horrific scenes became, I couldn't look away or stop reading, no matter how hard I tried.  From start to finish I was engrossed.  I was avidly hooked on the idea of a world without adults, as well.  As a result, I would highly recommend this book if you enjoyed Michael Grant's Gone series.  How would teens react if they had no one to answer to?  Would good win over evil?  Who would be the voice of reason?  These questions were all answered uniquely in The Last Orphans.  Each character was different and provided specific opinions and ideas when it came to varying scenarios, allowing the reader to understand what a certain type of person might do compared to another.

I loved how there were so many awesome characters in this book!  Besides Shane, I adored Tracy.  She wasn't your typical girly girl.  In fact, she kicked ass!  (Please excuse my language.)  She proudly represented females everywhere.  Of course, I couldn't help but also love Kelly due to her compassionate and understanding attitude.  I felt as though she brought out the best in Shane, as well.  It was great seeing the two develop together and individually throughout the story's entirety.  So many people grew between the start and finish of this book!

I highly recommend The Last Orphans, and I can't say that enough!  I was dying to know why the adults were wiped out, and the answer chilled me to the bone.  I promise that you'll be cheering for Shane, his group, and their safety.  Plus, the ending will leave you begging on your knees for more!  I know I am, at least.  N. W. Harris has created a masterpiece that many will love.

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